By now if you have not seen When They See Us, you have certainly seen other people’s reactions on social media. My reaction will be through the lens of my spiritual gift of translating the unseen spiritual aspects. I’m hoping that this point of view will help you channel the feelings that the series invokes in you, into a positive outlet.
The crux of the movie can be summed up into one statement: Five minority male children Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Korey Wise, and Yusef Salaam were targeted and charged for a crime they did not commit. To further expand, their lives, their family’s lives, and communities suffered greatly as a result of the grave injustice they faced. This is only one story in a soiled pattern of American history as it relates to the consumption of black people.
My work here is not to give you a play by play of the movie, because again if you haven’t watched it you need to! If you have watched it, this is our space to see each other and validate what we felt while watching. I was looking forward to this series for over a year and binged watched it on it’s debut with my fifteen-year-old niece, because we should never let children ingest anything that has the potential to shape their consciousness without guidance. If you have teenage children do not let them watch this alone.
It was difficult to watch. I knew how the story ended before watching it and it was still very difficult to watch. Witnessing the story through the art of film, added texture to the hurt. We shed tears, we paused the viewing, we talked about what was happening, we unpacked anger (both deserved and misdirected), we talked ourselves out of powerlessness. We discussed the conflict of loving the storytelling with the knowledge that this is more than a story.
Currently, this is our favorite show that we have watched in 2019…that presents conflict because we were entertained by a devastatingly real event. Remembering that these men fought to have this story told, eases the guilt of celebrating it. It allowed me to cement my concerns for my niece’s well-being, which seems annoying to her at times. She was vocal in her appreciation of how involved and present I am in her life. We discussed the emergency plan if she were ever in a police precinct without me.
The actors were beyond brilliant! In each of their faces you saw your father, uncle, grandfather, nephew, cousin and brother. In the women you saw your mother, aunt, grandmother, niece, cousin and sister. There is a helpless rage that sits in your throat, because you don’t have the words (upon the first viewing) to verbalize the depth of ancestral pain that is so easily agitated.
It’s a festering pain that says, why can’t they just leave us the fuck alone!? It’s scary how easily we can tap into that ancestral pain, yet be so far removed from it in our daily lives. You step into the space of us against them. You drown in the history of them, not leaving us the fuck alone. You’re overwhelmed at how much they have chipped away at your you-ness because they won’t…just let us be. You realize there isn’t a separation from you or the Central Park five, you’ve felt the same fears at different levels of intensity.
Then something amazing happens as the story unfolds, the light of truth provides an astounding clarity. It’s a realization that all truth makes it to the light no matter how much darkness it has to travel through.
With that newfound clarity, you see that the salvation and fairness that we seek will begin and end in the way we show up for each other. It’s in the way that we pursue truth and make it our business to tell it to everyone no matter the cost. Shout out to Ava for demonstrating how the path to discovering oneself, creates a path for other to be seen.
In the face of all the oppression lived out in the story of the Central Park Five and many others, you recommit yourself to the uplifting of your people. It lights a flame under your ass to be of service, better yet to incorporate service into your life strategy. It reaffirms the importance of family. We see how terrible a life journey can be without family born and/or chosen. You want to understand what your role is in the eternal family.
The toll of trauma heavily on the shoulders of the men and women in the series is unmeasurable, and yet we intimately share this story. You see yourself in their fatigue, anxiety, struggle, and love. Their lives and their pain is our pain. On camera it is is transformed into a light that connects us all. We watch them and every musical note of emotion is played in our souls, we know what they felt because we’ve felt it. When They See Us is a mirror to our souls.
Spiritual hack: You will need to do something physical preferably with positive music involved to move the energy through your body. Luckily for me, I watched this on Friday night and Saturday I attended The Roots Picnic in Philadelphia. It was the perfect after viewing event. There were so many kinds of blackness present, most importantly it was blackness in its purest form: without conformity or restriction. In fact, while I was there with my crew, they would often point out what someone had on and label it weird or mock it. I corrected them with a mantra that sang in my heart, THIS IS THE ACCEPTANCE EVENT EVERYONE IS ACCEPTED AS THEY ARE.
To be honest I didn’t make that connection until sitting down to write this review, that it shifted my vision that quickly. In just a few hours of watching it, I felt more protective of us. I think that’s the purpose for us when we see it, to see each other for real and to allow each other to be, to create an accepting environment.
Being in a space and having the freedom to be as you are is our ancestors’ vision for us! After viewing that film and encountering the rainbow of emotions, to have the freedom to attend an event in which we were free was a balm on my blistered soul (I got goosebumps thinking of that). It’s my strong recommendation to engage in some form of healing activity that represents the progress that has been made after viewing the film. The two polarizing views will help you settle in the truth.
In conclusion, the same thing that happened to the Central Park five is still happening in real time. We can not count on anyone else to do right by us, but we must hold others accountable for their actions and we must invest in activities that uphold the vision we have for our children. It’s an opportune time to create the vision you have for your legacy and the world you wish to have others inherit. Furthermore, I am looking forward to seeing what type of people are created as a result of the era in which social media connects us and can correct corruption. I’m excited to dream of the world where our children are really energized by discovering their talents and using them for social justice. But first we have to do our job to ensure they have the opportunity.
You are someone’s ancestor, lead in a way that they have no doubt of the love you had for them when they were just a notion.